“I just discovered my spouse has been having an affair. I am devastated and I want to save my marriage and seek therapy, but my spouse is not willing to come to therapy. What should I do?”
Many people want to change the world or change others, yet few are willing to change themselves. It is a positive sign that you are willing to address your problems and fight for your marriage.
We are firm believers in couples counseling, but if your spouse is unwilling to seek counsel we would encourage you to go alone, at first.
An affair doesn’t “just happen”—there are always struggles and difficulties that trigger behavior that results in an affair. Even the “one time opportunistic” affairs indicate a troubled marriage.
To properly answer the question, we need to know if your cheating spouse has ended the affair. If s/he is unrepentant and still engaged in the affair, therapy won’t help. You can’t begin to repair your marriage if the infidelity is continuing.
If the affair is not over, love must be tough. You need to ask him/her to leave, at least temporarily. It hurts, but don’t allow a cheating spouse to share the same roof—and certainly not the same bed—with you. Reconciliation can’t begin until s/he is faced with the reality of the consequences of their decisions.
This was the toughest thing I’ve (Jason) had to do. When I discovered Debby’s affair, I tried to hold on tight and ultimately I pushed her further away. The tighter I held on and tried to “make” it work, the less interested she was in recolciliation.
The day I told her to take off her ring and pack her things, reality slapped her in the face. At that point, we were able to begin to sort things out.
If the affair has ended, you need to understand the real problem—why won’t s/he go to counseling? afraid of feeling guilty? embarrassed?
You can gently assure your spouse that you truly desire to take whatever steps are necessary to repair your relationship, and ask him/her to reciprocate. His/her willingness to be vulnerable with a counselor or therapist demonstrates a heart of repentance and a desire to rebuilt trust.
If s/he is still unwilling, go alone. You may be the difference-maker in his/her attitude.
We participated in an expert panel article…read the entire article here